Updated at: 28-07-2022 - By: Jane Brody

The tragedy of birds drowning in bird baths is rare, but it can be prevented by making the water bowl of the bird bath shallower.

Because birds need to be able to get their feet wet in the water without sinking too far, it’s important to keep bird baths on the shallow side. As do a few rocks, which together form an artificial perch in the middle of the basin. Bird baths should have a depth of no more than 2 inches, and stones should be used to prevent water from ever seeping below that mark.

It’s good for the birds, sure, as they can more easily access the water for drinking and bathing, but it’s also helpful for you.

A bird bath with shallow water is easier to clean than one with murky water that is difficult to access.

Because unclean water is more easily recognized with less in the bowl, you can observe the growth of algae while still knowing when to clean it.

To prevent drowning, only fill the bird bath to its shallowest level and place it in a secure area of your yard. As the stones may be placed up to 2 inches from the rim, the water level can be controlled.

It’s best to keep the water in a bird bath quite shallow so that the stones at the bottom can be seen and any dirt or debris that may have settled there can be easily removed.

Birds aren’t dummies; if the water looks too deep, they won’t risk drowning to bathe in it, and they might only drink from it instead.

Bird baths can be too deep

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Indeed, any bird bath runs the risk of the birds falling into trouble if it is too deep for the birds to safely frolic in your backyard.

A bird bath that has water deeper than 2 inches is considered too deep, thus a safe depth for a bird bath is 2 inches or less.

The optimal depth for a bird bath is 1.5–4 cm (1–1.7 in) deep.

And that’s why it’s best to pair it with a bird bath made out of a nonslip material, like stone (metal bird baths aren’t as safe).

Bird bath depth should be sufficient for all wild bird species, with larger birds having a more difficult time bathing but still being able to easily rehydrate without any danger of drowning.

So, maintain a water level in your bird bath of no more than two inches at any time, and use it with stones in the bottom and a rock (or several) immersed in the water to serve as perches.

Avoid too deep bird baths

If you don’t already have a bird bath, the best kind to get is one that isn’t too deep to begin with.

You shouldn’t waste your time with bird baths that are too shallow and small, as you’ll have a hard time keeping water in them, but you may certainly choose one that has a deeper well in the middle.

A bird bath on a stand, which raises the bowl above ground level, or a simple bowl-shaped bird bath that can be set on a tabletop or the floor are two options.

These bird baths often have the form of a bowl with a rim that gently tapers to the bowl’s deepest point at its center.

Only you know if it’s too deep, but if it was when you acquired it, there are ways to fix it for a modest price increase.

Stones make it shallow

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If your bird bath is too deep, you may easily fix it by placing a series of stones in it, one at a time, and making sure they stay submerged at all times.

You and the birds can both profit in two ways from these pebbles or stones.

When birds wade into the water for a drink or a bath, the stones provide a firm footing, and when the water level rises, the stones may be lowered to keep the birds safe.

Stones are sometimes all that’s needed to remedy bird baths that are overly deep.

Using stones to line the bird bowl’s base is a foolproof technique to prevent the water level from rising higher than the stones themselves, which should be no more than 2 inches in depth, as I’ve already said.

Cover the bottom of the bird bath with stones to make it shallow so that water can only overflow when it rains.

Run a risk of drowning

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Whether you fill it excessively high or the rain fills it up naturally, I’ve found that bordering the bird bath with stones is the most efficient technique to fight the water depth.

In the absence of adequate preparation, birds can drown in a bird bath.

Bird baths purchased from a store are harmless, but a crowded bird bath can be dangerous for the birds that use it, especially the young and the elderly.

The only reason that could make them joyful is if they were trampled or somehow injured during the process, causing them to fall into the sea and drown. Even if you shallow the water, it won’t help much.

While you’re at it, divide up a huge water bowl into numerous smaller bowls using rocks to keep the birds from getting too enthusiastic.

For this reason, I don’t think the frolicking or fighting can get too out of hand, as the birds can always take refuge in the nearby rock.

Birds drowning in a bird bath in the yard is really unusual, so I wouldn’t stress too much over it.


There is no such thing as a safe depth for a bird bath, as birds cannot swim and could easily drown if they fell in.

Any bird bath should be no deeper than 2 inches, and ideally it should be even shallower.

In spite of the fact that larger birds would have the most trouble bathing in a bird bath with a depth of less than 2 inches, it is sufficient for the vast majority of backyard birds.

It’s best to avoid installing a bird bath that’s too deep from the start, but if you find that yours is deeper than the recommended 2 inches, you can easily fix this at low cost.

The easiest option is to pick up a bag of stones made for use in water, ideally for an outside pond.

Completely lining the bird bath’s water basin will result in a uniform depth of 2 inches.

Now that the birds won’t have any trouble getting in and out of the water, it wouldn’t hurt to add a good set of stones to use as perches inside the water bowl.

The only way to prevent birds from drowning in a bird bath is to reduce the depth of the water, although it’s important to keep in mind that this is an extremely unusual occurrence.

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